Moderated by journalist and TV presenter Massimo Gramellini
Seventy years on, Il Grande Torino still have a unique charm and appeal. In the 1940s, this team was the greatest on the planet and it remains one of the strongest sides of all time, brought to a tragic, premature end in a plane crash on the hill of Superga, just outside of Turin, at 17:03 on 4 May 1949. It was and has remained the team of all Italians – the team most loved, most admired, and most dreamed of by children throughout the country. The list of players reads like an immortal nursery rhyme:
Grezar, Rigamonti, Castigliano.
Menti, Loik, Gabetto, Mazzola, Ossola.
The team won five consecutive league titles, from 1942 to 1949, and was the first team to win the Coppa Italia and Scudetto in the same season (1942/43). They produced goal-scoring displays that cannot be repeated – this was an unbeatable side. At their home ground, the Stadio Filadelfia, they put together a run of 100 games without defeat. It was no accident therefore that they became known as the Invincibles. On 11 May 1947, the Italian national team was coloured with Torino’s shade of dark red, as 10 out of the 11 players picked to take on the greats of Hungary were Torino players, the exception being goalkeeper Lucidio Sentimenti. That is a feat that has never been repeated. Valentino Mazzola was the captain; he embodied the game of football in its most spectacular form and, in the aftermath of 1945, also embodied the willingness of an entire country to identify itself in a positive light after the terrible years of the war. The legacy of Il Grande Torino is still present among us: it is that thread of passion, of the desire to fight with loyalty and courage, which unites the Invincibles with the Torino side of Pulici and Graziani, Sala and Pecci, which was the last to win the Scudetto, back in 1976, and followed it up with two second-place finishes, as well as the present-day Torino team, which competed in Europe this year.